Brexit FAQs

With the prospect of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit looming, it’s understandable that you may be concerned about what this means for your pension. As negotiations are ongoing, and the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU has not been agreed, we can’t say with any certainty what the impact of Brexit will be. However, we’re taking a pro-active approach to planning and detailed work is being undertaken to prepare for the potential implications.

In the meantime, this page will address some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received from our members, the answers are based on our understanding of current legislation and UK Government plans.

How will Brexit impact my pension?

USS is a hybrid occupational pension scheme, largely governed by UK domestic law. As such, Brexit doesn’t directly affect USS benefits and the way it’s run.

Defined Benefits such as the USS Retirement Income Builder, are based on a promise to provide a defined level of pension on retirement or death, and there is no current indication that these would be directly affected by Brexit.

There is also no indication of any impact on the structure of Defined Contribution pensions, such as the USS Investment Builder, as a result of Brexit. Benefits in the USS Investment Builder are determined by the contributions paid in by you and your employer, and how well the contributions perform when invested. The value of investments (which can go up or down) could be impacted by the markets’ response to Brexit.

Further information about the USS Investment Builder and the performance of funds can be found in the Guide to investing in the USS Investment Builder and the USS Funds performance page.

Will you still be able to pay my pension in the result of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit?

In this period of Brexit uncertainty, it’s understandable that you might have some concerns about receiving your pension, particularly if you live overseas.

At USS we have members who live all over the world who we pay pensions to on a monthly basis. If a ‘no-deal’ Brexit occurs, we have checked with our overseas transfers provider and have confirmed that we should still be able to make pension payments to EU citizens in the same way as we currently do for members living outside of the EU.

If you live in the UK your pension payments should not be affected. However, we’ll be monitoring the position and will provide further updates to this page as the situation develops.

Will tax on my pension change after Brexit?

Tax on pensions for UK residents is not set to change post-Brexit.

If you live overseas, you might have to pay UK tax on your pension as well as tax in the country you live in depending on your tax residency status, much in the same way as today. It’s currently unclear how Brexit will affect the amount of tax you’ll have to pay.

If you are planning on moving overseas, you must tell HM Revenue and Customs so that you pay the correct level of tax. As tax laws are different in each country, it’s always best to seek independent financial advice if you’re unsure.

Can I transfer my pension out of USS and the UK?

If you’re actively paying into your pension or you’re retired, you can’t transfer savings from the USS Retirement Income Builder to another scheme but you can transfer any savings you’ve built up in the USS Investment Builder.

If you’re not paying in to your USS pension or receiving benefits (deferred member), you can transfer your USS pension savings to another scheme.

If you’re living or working overseas and are eligible to transfer your pension savings, you can transfer them to an overseas scheme as long as it is recognised by HM Revenue & Customs as a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS).

Transferring your pension overseas could change the amount you get when you retire and you may have to pay additional charges or tax. We don’t yet know what these charges or taxes might be following Brexit or how else Brexit may impact transferring your pension overseas.

A defined benefit pot such as the USS Retirement Income Builder is a valuable investment, therefore if you’re considering transferring to another scheme you are encouraged to take independent financial advice before moving your retirement savings. It is now a legal requirement to take financial advice when transferring defined benefit rights from a scheme like USS to a defined contribution scheme when the defined benefit transfer is £30,000 or more.

If you need some impartial guidance about the options you have with the USS Investment Builder you could also contact Pension Wise. Pension Wise is a free and impartial government service set up to give you guidance on your options under defined contribution schemes, like the USS Investment Builder.

Can I still take a lump sum out of my pension after Brexit?

The same benefit option will still available to you after Brexit. However, when you’re making a decision about how you want to use your USS benefits, you may want to seek independent financial advice to see what works best for you.

If you need some impartial guidance about the options you have with the USS Investment Builder you could contact Pension Wise. Pension Wise is a free and impartial government service set up to give you guidance on your options under defined contribution schemes, like the USS Investment Builder.


Given the uncertainty around Brexit, these answers are subject to change and may be updated as appropriate when more information and clarity regarding Brexit becomes available. Information provided is correct at the time of publishing.